Food & Drink

The Best Comfort Foods to Share with Friends and Neighbors

Readers dole out generous helpings


In a recent Talk of the South newsletter, we asked readers to name the foods they make to comfort, console, or cheer a friend or neighbor. Here are some of the responses:

Cheese grits. First time I went to a neighborhood potluck here in California, everyone kept stopping by and saying they were the best polenta they’d ever had. —Ann W. 

A big bowl of gumbo with an Abita beer alongside. —Jim C. 

Pineapple upside down cake that I bake in an iron skillet. —Tom S. 

Fudge made with marshmallow cream and black walnuts. I use the Kraft recipe but double the semisweet chocolate amount. —Margaret E. 

My mom’s meatloaf recipe, served with mashed potatoes and gravy. —Betsey W.

Chicken and rice. I’m serving it to a group of friends tomorrow night. —Angie B. 

Corn beef SOS over toast. The way my Daddy made it every Christmas morning. —Joe L. 

White bread sandwiches without the crusts, cut into four squares, and filled with my mama’s homemade pimento cheese. I take these when there’s a death in the family, the birth of a child, when someone is sick, and when a new neighbor moves in. Everyone loves them. —Martha M. 

Red beans and rice with a big bottle of Crystal or Tabasco within reach. —Vickey M. 

Homemade peach ice cream made in a hand crank freezer. —John M. 

My chicken pot pie. It’s what I always take those who are “under the weather.” —Lynne T. 

A chicken divan recipe I was lucky enough to pry out of a co-worker back in the early 1980s. It was a hit at every potluck we had in that office, with the guys gobbling up most of it before the rest of us had a chance. —Joanna S. 

A cobbler. I just made peach cobblers from fresh South Carolina beauties and shared one with our neighbors. —Debbie M. 

My cornbread, my smoked Boston butt, my Brunswick stew, and my pecan pie. —Ron E.

My mother’s potato salad: potatoes cooked in the skins, then peeled and cut into cubes, hard-boiled eggs, chopped celery, chopped sweet pickles, chopped onions, and (the clincher) Hellman’s mayonnaise. Don’t let it get too cold. Friend or neighbor will be comforted with the first bite. —Rachel C. 

Collard greens and fried catfish. What more could you ask for? —Charles R. 

My friends love my vegetable beef soup and my “church potluck worthy” casseroles. —Jan C. 

Nothing comes close to preparing a cauldron of chicken and dumplings along with a mile-high apple pie. —Henriette H. 

I love to share my homemade canning experiments: pickled green tomatoes, pickled okra, and bourbon-soaked peaches are my latest attempts. —Jennifer K. 

Brunswick stew and cornbread. Most of my neighbors are from up North and they love this fall dinner treat. —Cary K. 

Cobbler with whatever fruit is in season. If it’s summer, with some ice cream. And if it’s winter, with some sort of bourbon concoction. —Savannah-Jane G. 

My lemon pound cake with a lemon glaze. This cake is always good at any time of day or night, with coffee, tea, wine, or bourbon. —Vicki K. 

Fried catfish, hush puppies, white beans, onions, and coleslaw. —Peggy M.

Cheese straws or Mayhaw jelly. —Cheri G. 

Shrimp and andouille over Charleston-style grits. Fresh Georgia shrimp, Louisiana andouille, and Carolina stone ground grits. Fresh bread to sop up the broth. Made by me. —Danny S.

My grandmother’s homemade almond pound cake. It’s delicious and unique because you place it in a cold oven then turn the oven on to bake it. Made with love and wonderful memories of “Dacey” (Grace). —Suzanne N.

Bologna salad. Doesn’t sound like much, but when there’s a passing in the family, I take a big bowl of bologna salad, some good bread, pickles, and chips. People are coming in at different times, and a good sandwich always comes in handy.  —Rhonda H.

Dry rubbed baby back ribs cooked on my Bayou Classic ceramic grill, using the 3-1-1 method. With just a touch of homemade sauce. —Van H. 

For me, mustard potato salad is the best! It goes with ribs, fried chicken, and any southern meat you decide to have. —Janice P. 

Scalloped potatoes. —Phillip S. 

Stuffed bell pepper soup. —Frances R. 

Buttermilk peach congealed salad in a pretty glass dish. Congealed salads make everything better. —Kathleen M.

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